Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Fireflyman of Cherating

We had just clambered into a little boat that fits eight of us from Hafiz's jetty along the Cherating river. The boatman was taking us out on the mangrove river to observe the fireflies.

Earlier, we were briefed by Hafiz, the owner-operator of Hafiz Firefly Tour about the fireflies - the various species, its characters, habitat etc. In Malaysia, there are more than 29 known species from the 2,000 odd species worldwide. 

Hafiz hailed from Myanmar, married a local and decided to settle down at his wife's village in Cherating. An IT graduate, he chose to become an entrepreneur specialising in Fireflies tour as he thought that it was the ideal business to go into as his father-in-law owns a few boats and they live by the river.

By 8.45pm, all 5 boats carrying some 40 of us were already cruising along the river. Taking photographs with flash were not allowed, but even if it were, you still wouldn't be able to capture the images. It was simply almost impossible. 

Barely 10 minutes into our journey, we could see hundreds of glowing dots of lights appearing out of the darkness. It seemed as though the entire firefly colony along the river had come out to play. It felt like Christmas came early this year. It was simply mesmerizing!

Hafiz was seen 'calling' his pets from their perches in the mangroves. He did this by flickering lights, and the fireflies responded by actually coming to our boats! They are very friendly fireflies. I managed to catch and release them a couple of times, and I believed most of us managed to experience that. I just wished my kids were with me to share this rare experience. But then again, maybe its best if they don't come along, as they would have scared the hell out of the fireflies with their cries :)

I was with a group of media practitioners - mainstream and social media, invited to join this 3D/2N Cherating experience organised by the leading local travel mag, Santai and sponsored by the Legend Resort Cherating, one of the more popular beach resorts along the Cherating beach in Kuantan, Pahang.

I have to apologise for not being able to post much photos of the event, as it was almost impossible to photograph the fireflies in action, which is big enough reason for you to come and visit this place to personally experience (and hold) the incredible twinkling creature.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Of Turtles and Cherating

"Hi Abang Fuad" was the first thing I heard when I entered the Grand Seasons Hotel lobby in Kuala Lumpur. There, already standing and smiling to greet me was Roszana aka Ana of Santai magazine, the person responsible for roping me in the 3D/2N Cuti-cuti 1 Malaysia The Legend Resort Cherating experience. Cuti-cuti 1 Malaysia, aptly known as CC1M or 1 Malaysia Holidays in English, is a domestic travel/tourism activities that are sanctioned/supported by the Domestic Marketing Division of Tourism Malaysia. "How many of us again?" I asked when Ana told me that there would be 76 participants from the various media for this event. Wow! this was the first time I got to join such a big group for such an event, comprising of representatives from the local mainstream media and the social media practitioners.

Our hospitable host for 2 nights - The beautiful Legend Resort Cherating.
Ok, the bus journey was quite uneventful, so were the semi-official itineraries that followed (briefing, speeches etc) that were held in one of the resort's meeting rooms, until later in the afternoon, when we were brought to the Cherating Turtle Sanctuary situated about 8km from our resort. Initiated by the Pahang State Government, the sanctuary was built in 1997 with the objective of conserving and preserving the dwindling turtle population. It also acts as a centre to provide turtle protection and to ensure systematic management of turtles in that area.

The Cherating Turtle Sanctuary office looks like a typical malay house. 
The main activities carried out by this Pahang turtle sanctuary centre include collection of turtle eggs and relocation to the hatchery as part of the turtle hatching program. The turtle hatcheries can be seen near the beach. The hatcheries are monitored round the clock with the eggs incubation period of 50-60 days. Turtle hatchlings usually emerge at night, and of course they all look incredibly cute.
To prevent them from being killed or eaten by its natural predators like monitor lizards, birds and fishes, the hatchlings are immediately released to the sea. This turtle centre also carries out research programs on turtles, and provide video shows and information to educate the public and promote public awareness on the critical importance of conserving and protecting turtles.

A matured green turtle at one of the pools at the sanctuary.
The centre also 'packed' for us some 100 hatchlings to be brought back to our resort for our next activity of the day - releasing turtle hatchlings back to the sea. Leading the way was the State Culture & Tourism Exco, Dato' Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin accompanied by Director of Pahang Tourism and Culture Office, Tuan Haji Idros Yahya and Pahang's Tourism Malaysia Director, Mr. Ahmad Faisal Mohamed. Also present were Mr. Meor Amran, Director of Sales - The Legend Resort Cherating and also Mr. Siva, the resort manager.

Dato' Shakar (right) with Tuan Hj Idros (left) and Mr. Siva officiating
the release of the hatchlings to the sea.
Don't you think I'm cute?

Joining us were some of the resort guests, with most them foreigners. It was quite an experience watching and handling the cute sea creatures, releasing them to the sea, and also sad at the same time, knowing the fact that only about 2% of them will survive. 

Good luck my cute friends.

For more information on turtles in Malaysia, please go to:

For more information on The Legend Resort Cherating and tourism in Pahang, kindly visit:

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